STOP Asking Yourself “Why”
“Why” is the most asked question in therapy.
If you have been reading my stories, you already know that I am a Licensed therapist working at BetterHelp. For the last six years, I have heard my clients asking themselves “Why” — some of them with healthy intentions, others not so much.
People want to know “Why” are they this or that way. “Why” is life so hard. “Why,” did their partner leave. “Why” did they get rejected. “Why” can’t they gain control of their emotions. “Why” do they have these dreams.
And I get it! Since the beginning of humanity, we have been trying to figure out the origin of things. We can sit here and ask infinite times WHY, WHY, WHY. It is totally fair!
While it is valuable to gain context of situations and analyze the causes, we tend to get stubborn and inconsolable with this WHY trend.
Getting stuck on your WHY will not help you move along in life. In some cases, nothing cathartic comes out of finding out why (hard pill to swallow). Some life events are simply elements of life. Ultimately, what makes an experience life-changing is what you tell yourself about that situation, not the actual situation.
What makes an experience life-changing is what you tell yourself about that situation, NOT the actual situation.
In other words, it takes for you to determine whether something is relevant or transformational. Once you do, you can keep moving forward and transcend with growth. On the other hand, if you refuse to embrace an answer, your brain will keep making noise (without advancing or healing) because it cannot reconcile.
Cognitive Behavioral theories suggest that humans are constantly interpreting things around them. That is, to make sense of things and feel safe. As for when we cannot make sense of something, our brain often perceives the situation as a threat. So it declares,
“THIS IS AN UNKNOWN SITUATION. YOU ARE IN DANGER!”
Immediately, our brain activates the fight or flight response — I hope this explains why you find yourself “on edge” when struggling with a miserable WHY.
Please do yourself a favor and offer yourself a godd*mn rationale for your concerns, KEEP CALM, AND CARRY ON!
Otherwise, scenarios like this will continue to happen:
For example, let’s say your girlfriend broke up with you because she wants to focus on University (that’s the whole truth).
Yet, you refuse to believe this is the reason why she left you. You stay doubtful for months, asking yourself WHY. You harass her and others with questions. You are inconsolable. No matter what is said to you, you are not embracing a cure to your why. Then, months after, you hear that she is now dating a female. That is when (you decide) it clicks for you:
“She left me because she is a lesbian.”
Now, you finally allow yourself to move on — Regardless of this NOT being the case at all.
Maybe your ex-girlfriend discovered this part of her sexuality after you, or she is exploring it because she is curious. Her WHY for breaking up with you had nothing to do with your reasoning.
It is the story we tell ourselves that hits home for us. And while that is OKAY, we are guilty of making this “perfect narrative” exhausting and nonsense (often, it is not even evidence-based).
I am not trying to minimize your experience. It is significant to provide reasons to situations; yet, once you find a reasonable reason, adopt it, and invest your time on HOW to move on.
The Key To Solving This Problem:
1. Give yourself time to process the situation (via journaling, self-talk, talk therapy, or consultation with a safe listener). Note: Just make sure you don’t get stuck on this step.
2. Write down all of your WHYs (yes, on paper)
3. Come up with 1–3 reasonable explanations.
- “I struggle with anxiety because it runs in my family.”
- “My boyfriend left me, and I may never know why now, but I am going to believe that the love was not enough; therefore, this is what is best for us.”
- “My ex did not know what love is; therefore, he could not do any better.”
- “I people-please because I learned that it was a way to feel loved and accepted.”
- “I keep going back to my ex because I have created a toxic habit for myself.”
- “We all have dreams because of biological reasons. However, they do not necessarily have a purpose or meaning.”
- “I became addicted to alcohol because I depended on it to be social.”
- “Bad things happened to me because bad things can happen to people. There is nothing wrong with me.”
- “I got fired because of a combination of misunderstandings.”
- “I do not like social situations because I do not have the energy to entertain others.”
4. Embrace it
5. Time to go from WHY to HOW.
How can you move on from this and create a better reality for yourself?
As I already said, the why will help your brain feel safe and gain context of the situation. The HOW is what will change your life. So from now on, your goal should be to get to the HOW as quickly as you can 😇.